Gatwick boss: It’s between me and Heathrow

Marion Dakers
GATWICK’S boss yesterday pointed to a growing number of new routes and rising passenger traffic as proof the airport is the best place for an extra runway in the south east of England.

Stewart Wingate is “highly confident” that Gatwick will be on the aviation commission’s shortlist for new capacity next month, repeating yesterday his pledge to resign if the south London airport fails to make the cut.

“I think it’s time people nailed their colours to the mast. What I’m offering is a mixture of carriers with low costs, low environmental impact that nobody else can offer,” he told City A.M.

The airport launched EasyJet’s flights to Moscow in March, while Norwegian plans to base routes to several American cities there next year. Gatwick wants to build a second runway.

“Heathrow were saying last week that we need a hub to get to the US; nothing could be further from the truth,” said Wingate.

Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport by passenger traffic, is lobbying for permission to build a third runway. It claims customers are best served by hub connections at a single site.

Wingate, who thinks Sir Howard Davies’ panel should narrow its shortlist to Gatwick and Heathrow, reckons the west London option will end up costing customers more.

“They can’t serve that low cost market in Europe and people need to start asking Colin Matthews and Heathrow how they intend to serve low cost European markets.

“And Sir Howard Davies, are you going to encumber the next generation with higher fees and higher environmental impact when it’s not necessary?”

His comments came as the airport posted a 10.7 per cent jump in half-year turnover to £360.6m, while cost pruning efforts pushed earnings up 14.4 per cent to £196.7m.

Gatwick took 20.8m passengers through its doors in the period, up 4.4 per cent on the same time a year ago.